The world and profession of strength and conditioning, a profession that is still in its infancy, was originally accepted by football programs looking to develop bigger, stronger, faster and more resilient athletes. These original programs developed by applying both bodybuilding and powerlifting methods in the training of athletes with results that helped push the profession forward and into the lives of most all other sports. There is no doubt that the profession would be nowhere near where it currently is and reached the heights that it has currently reached without these programs and the coaches that built the profession from the ground up.
As a result of the football strength training revolution, many former and current strength and conditioning programs are greatly influenced by the way that football programs have applied training principles over the years. On top of this, many strength and conditioning coaches are former football players that found a passion for the weight room during their time as a college football player and are now applying the strength principles that they learned and embrace through the years playing football.
Two things, however, have changed the landscape of the field in recent years.
One is social media and the ability for coaches to showcase the work they are doing with their athletes and share their thoughts on strength and conditioning with other coaches. The interaction coaches from across the world can have with one another is unprecedented – it’s not uncommon for coaches in one part of the world to be completely in-tune with what coaches on a different continent are doing with their athletes. The power of social media has clearly been a game changer.
The second revolves around the investment that some schools/professional organizations are putting into their strength and conditioning departments. Many schools now have a football only strength staff along with an Olympic sports only strength staff. Schools have strength coaches that just work with basketball teams or just with the hockey teams. With the investment into the field, we also find more and more coaches coming into the profession filling the demand for larger strength staffs. These coaches are now coming from sport backgrounds that don’t involve football. Former college basketball players are getting into the field. Former college hockey players are getting into the field. The field is now developing coaches that have different sport backgrounds and therefore different thoughts, beliefs and opinions on how to train athletes.
A clear conclusion of this; without a doubt I feel we currently find ourselves smack dab in the middle of a strength training movement in the sport of ice hockey. The days of applying both bodybuilding and powerlifting principles is becoming a thing of the past. Hockey is slowly but surly pulling itself away from the original training influences of the past and forging its own path.
Yes, just like football and all other sports, hockey needs strong and powerful athletes that are resilient to injury. Yes, hockey athletes need to develop lower body strength and lower body power to increase their ability to accelerate, decelerate and change direction on the ice. Yes, hockey players need upper body strength to withstand the high impact created by crashing into another player, the ice, or the boards. But, the methods in creating these athletes has changed and they will continue to change with the influence of coaches that are now specializing in working solely with hockey populations.